Jean-Pierre Gastellou, Basque breeder-manufacturer with many hats

06/03/2022 | From animals to ready-to-eat products, at Gastellou we make everything… And it’s a family story.

In the Gastellou family, we are herders from generation to generation. In addition to this work, Jean-Pierre Gastellou also developed work as a producer, given by his father. The family farm as well as a salt canning factory and a shop are located in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in the Basque Country. For three years the fifties also went to the Salon de l’Ag Agriculturalure de Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Jean-Pierre wears an apron and beret on his head, surrounded by delicious food in a Basque-colored stall, Jean-Pierre sells his wares, in which he masters every connection from the wild. object to formula.

Farm Poutzia spans over forty hectares of usable agricultural area (AU), “and quite a few mountains. It is home to about 400 cows (Blonde d’Aquitaine and Black Angus breeds), about 30 horses and 250 pigs per year, including Pies Noirs, Durocs, Piétrains and sometimes Basque pigs. There are also llamas, peacocks, turkeys, chickens, goats and sheep. “At home, it’s almost like a zoo. Right now we are looking for a zebra. “ Jean-Pierre announced. Today, the Gastellou species is bred, processed and sold. Jean-Baptiste has opened 7 stores, especially in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz, Espelette and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. At the same time, he also goes to a few fairs, especially in Brittany.

“A Basque Cake Is Alchemy”

With their cows, the Gastellou prepare axoa with Espelette pepper, stews and sell several types of meat in their butcher shop. Other animals, detailed or on hoofs, are sold to butchers or horse dealers. At the 7 Maison Gastellou stores, you can buy traditional Basque grilled meats like ham or lomo, sausages, dried breast or even pâté or andouille. To the chef’s surprise, Basque was added to the list.

“The Basque pie was of course an accident,” Jean-Pierre said. “Fifteen years ago, I bought a store. Inside was Joseph, a one-year retired pastry chef, whom I didn’t have to take on. He came to me every day, saying to me, “Jean-Pierre, we have to make Basque.” I told him it was none of our business, but we couldn’t say no to him. My father is the mayor of the village and in small villages it is hard to offend people! We finally took it, and we don’t regret it. It is an extraordinary phenomenon that is becoming more and more important every day. Obviously, it will be the best Basque pie in the Basque Country! » Joseph passed the secret of the recipe to Jean-Pierre. Then, when he reveals it to his pastry chef, get him to sign a confidentiality clause. “A Basque cake is alchemy. A few grams near an ingredient, it’s not the same thing. »

Skills learned on the job

The Basque pie wasn’t the only unexpected turn of events in the career of Jean-Pierre, who was not destined to take over the farm. Of his two brothers, one took over the cannery and the other ran the farm. After graduating in mathematics in Bordeaux, the young man studied in Paris to become a veterinarian. The breeder-producer’s career took a different turn when his father had serious health problems. “My brothers, still a bit young, worked on other projects before taking the torch. Only students can go home, and that’s how I started. » Finally, when he took over 100% of the reins, the breeder “Love the work. »

The young man had the necessary know-how for the profession. As a child, he used to help his parents on the farm. The aspiring herder drove the cows up and down the mountain, groomed them, and was able to produce a cow as young as 12 years old. Today, one of the fifty-year-old’s brothers returned to the farm to look after it with his son, his wife, his mother, and Jean-Pierre. His other brother, a retired soldier, often helps them. “It’s family spirit,” Jean-Pierre commented.

At the farm, a part-time employee supervises the pigs. Including the cannery and stores, Maison Gastellou currently has about 20 employees. Jean-Pierre combines many hats and for him the dates are not the same. From the cannery, where he goes to check that everyone is where they are, to the pig farm where he travels as much as he can, Basque is in the oven and at the factory. He also happens to be delivering goods on the beach or replacing a sick employee at any location. “I could never work in an office,” he says.

Nolwenn Tournoux
By Nolwenn Tournoux

Image source: Nolwenn Tournoux

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